Suffolk booklet targets painkiller abuse

Suffolk County Executive Steve Bellone, above, backed Anthony Suffolk County Executive Steve Bellone, above, backed Anthony Manetta, a political strategist and fundraiser, for IDA chief executive. (Dec. 20, 2011) Photo Credit: Howard Schnapp

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Suffolk County announced Thursday that it will distribute a new educational pamphlet on prescription painkiller abuse to nearly 9,000 doctors and medical professionals.

"Preventing Misuse of Prescription Opioid Drugs," a 24-page document detailing the rise in overdoses and ways to spot addiction, was designed to "arm prescribers with evidence-based material to serve as a reference and guide" in prescribing painkillers, officials said. It will be distributed next week.

"By engaging the medical community on reducing opioid prescriptions, we will reduce the burden on the law enforcement community," said County Executive Steve Bellone.

Last June, a man seeking pain pills killed four people inside a Medford pharmacy, several months before a Suffolk resident robbed a Seaford pharmacy, leading to his death and that of an intervening federal agent.

Shortly after taking office in January, Bellone responded to the crimes by announcing police-led pharmacy safety seminars.

But some medical professionals said that care in managing prescriptions was just as important. Patrick O'Shaughnessy, chief medical officer at St. Catherine of Siena Medical Center in Smithtown, said the county's new educational pamphlet may help clinicians provide more "alternative pain management options and services."

"As physicians, we need to do our part to continue to manage pain effectively, yet be cognizant of the high potential for addiction with these medicines," he said in a statement.

In addition to the pamphlet, the county health department will dedicate a senior mental hygiene services worker to consult with physicians on the issue.

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